|Bill Dungsroman 03/18/2003 |
You Don't Believe Me, Do You?
That's okay, you will. As I will explain, the themes, the
characters, and the major plot points of the Baldur's Gate games are all
incredibly similar to or downright shameless plagiarisms of the original Star Wars
trilogy. Even the name "Baldur's Gate" is a possessive pronoun-noun
doublet, just like "Star Wars!" Not proof enough? Well, listen to this:
Star Wars / Baldur's Gate
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away? Maybe; how about "Along
an artificial timeline in a Realm since Forgotten?" Baldur's Gate (BG1)
opens with a movie where the evil Sarevok (a dark, foreboding figure with a helmet and a
deep voice) chases down and kills one of his half-brother Bhaalspawn, some wimpy faggot,
in order to single himself out as the only child of Bhaal. The opening scene in Star
Wars (SW) has the evil Darth Vader chasing a Rebel spaceship, some forgettable clunky
thing, to secure the plans to the Death Star and regain absolute control of the galaxy.
Note that Vader wants to be the last remaining Jedi as well.
Although the sequential introduction of several of the main characters
at this point differs between the two, the characters in question have obvious parallels.
We have the main character in BG1 (referred to hereafter as BGMC) and Luke Skywalker
living a peaceful if stifling existence in the idyllic yet rough Candlekeep and Tatooine,
respectively. Then, evil appears and disrupts them from their lives in a manner that is
both horrifying yet strangely appellate to their innermost desires for adventure and
excitement. As Luke's Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru are slain, so is BGMC's adoptive
father Gorion, forcing a nervous exodus from home. This journey is assisted by two wacky
sidekicks: a Nervous Nellie who constantly complains yet is capable of feats of unwitting
bravery (C3PO / Khalid, whose voices are nearly identical) and his stoic mate who is only
useful in very specific circumstances (R2D2 / Jaheira and her Druidic skills).
|Quick: Which one said "We were made to suffer; it's our lot in life" and which one said "If there is no better?"|
Along the way, a wise old "wizard" (a term used in both the
game and the film) provides guidance (Obi Wan / Elminster). They prepare for their journey
in a bar (Mos Eisley's Cantina / The Friendly Arm Inn) where they have a sudden and
violent struggle (Walrus Man / Tarnesh the bounty hunter) before leaving. Note that bounty
hunters play a significant role in both BG1 and The Empire Strikes Back (TESB). The
Luke Skywalker / Han Solo dichotomy of personality types is accounted for in BGMC's
persona as a whole, as a player of BG may adopt any sort of character, whether it be a
swordsmith, mage, or both (Jedi), or a more unconventional rogue type (Corellian
Smuggler). The focus of Luke as the more main character in the films is apparent in that
most players of BG1 choose the Paladin or Fighter/Mage, and many players of BG2 choose
Kensai/Mage (as they have proven to be the more powerful character types in the games),
all of which are quite similar to the martial-and-magic credos and abilities of a Jedi.
Another popular BG2 character type is the Swashbuckler/Mage, which magnificently combines
the Luke and Han characters. Imoen helps to provide the rogue character type as well.
Along the way a large, barely intelligible yet fiercely loyal sidekick is acquired
(Chewbacca / Minsc). Although there is a major timeline discrepancy here comparing halfway
between SW and Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn (BG2) instead
of BG1, it cannot be overlooked that a major plot point is the rescue of the major female
character (Princess Leia / Imoen). There's even a closing wall trap in Spellhold,
just like the trash compactor from SW.
|Into the garbage chute, flyboy!|
All of this culminates in a final siege of a large, overbearing
structure (Death Star / City of Baldur's Gate) where the good guys a cadre of
the main characters and some random comrades (Rebels / Palace Guards) fight the
main evil character and some random henchmen (Storm Troopers / doppelgangers). Evil is
defeated, and although it's actually a comparison between the finale of BG1 and the
finale of TESB, the parallel is ridiculously apparent: Darth Vader reveals that he is
Luke's father as Sarevok reveals that he is BGMC's brother, and thus are their
destinies intertwined by blood. Finally, the overall theme between the two is strikingly
similar: plucky young hero unwittingly follows his destiny to defeat, with the help of
some oddball sidekicks, an antagonist who (most importantly) turns out to be closely
related to him.
|Come on. Who didn't think Luke, I am your father' during this bit?|
The Empire Strikes Back / Baldur's Gate 2
After some intermittent period of time passes (as explained in
TESB's opening crawl and BG2's opening movie), Luke gets captured by the Wompa
beast and BGMC is captured by Jon Irenicus (who becomes the surrogate antagonist for Darth
Vader). Freedom is secured by Han Solo and Imoen (as rogue types operating outside normal
rules and constraints) as a battle begins to reach a fever pitch (the Imperial assault on
Hoth / the Shadow Thieves' assault on Irenicus' Dungeon in Athkatla). Khalid is
found torn apart on a rack as C3PO is found blown apart later in TESB. The heroes barely
Luke's story in the first half of TESB is paralleled in BG2 by the
fairly quick (for the AD&D rules set) leveling up of BGMC. Interestingly enough, part
of Luke's training is to defeat an apparition of Vader, while in the beginning of the
BG2 expansion Throne of Bhaal (ToB), BGMC must defeat an apparition of Irenicus.
This is done in a comfortable yet threatening place in the middle of nowhere (Dagobah /
The Pocket Plane) where an annoying yet powerful little beast makes comments in a stupid
voice (Yoda / Cespenar the Imp) and has a penchant for noodling around in other's
As for Han, Leia, and the rest, their flight from the Empire leads them
on various side adventures, much like the optional side quests in BG2. Eventually they
take flight to a strange place (Cloud City above Bespin / Spellhold above Brynnlaw) and
suffer a betrayal by a supposed ally who didn't seem all that trustworthy to begin
with (Lando Calrissian / Saemon Havarian).
In a climactic confrontation between the protagonist and the
antagonist, a battle takes place and something very personal is lost (Vader cuts off
Luke's hand / Irenicus steals BGMC's soul). The capture of Han Solo parallels
the loss of that wild, young, carefree spirit that BGMC loses when his soul is stolen, and
he realizes how serious and dire his life and the consequences of his actions have become.
Notice at this point in the game BGMC gains the ability to become the Slayer, an ability
to embrace his "dark side" if you will, which makes him exponentially more
powerful but is far from consequence in doing so. And, although another timeline
discrepancy exists in this case between the halfway point of BG2 and the finale of Return
of the Jedi (RotJ) it cannot be overlooked that the main male and female
characters are revealed to be brother and sister. The betraying character, realizing the
implications of his treachery, tries to help out of contrition (Lando helps Leia and Co.
escape Cloud City / Saemon helps BGMC and Co. escape Spellhold). It should be noted at
this point that the events in BG2 overlap into RotJ. Regardless, notice how the overall
theme of TESB and the first half of BG2 share striking similarity: the heroes face their
most difficult challenges and do not emerge unscathed, and a final confrontation is
|"Build you a special magic item I will. Improve your sword I can."|
Return of the Jedi / Baldur's Gate 2
In the beginning of RotJ, the heroes go in disguise to free Han Solo
from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt and his bounty hunter ilk. In the second half of BG2,
the heroes go in disguise to free Adalon the silver dragon's eggs from the clutches
of Ust Natha's Matron Mother and her Drow ilk. After some dangerous trials (Leia as a
bounty hunter, Luke and the Rancor beast / the Kuo Toa/Beholder/Illithid dungeons,
Jarlaxle the lich), the heroes are brought to a confrontation with a large scary monster
(Sarlacc / a summoned demon). All hell breaks loose thanks to a supposedly non-threatening
supporting character's assistance with an important item (Soulafein and the fake
dragon eggs / R2D2 and Luke's light saber both of whom were masquerading as
unwilling allies of the enemy) at a critical point, which results in the doom and downfall
of the entire collection of antagonists (Jabba and his skiff / the Matron Mother and Ust
Natha), and the heroes escape.
After some fiddling around, the heroes decide an assault is needed on
the major antagonist's base (Death Star II / Suldanesslar) to defeat him once and for
all. A venerable military leader is introduced to the story to fill in the heroes of the
present circumstances (General Nadine / Elven Commander Elhan) as a more powerful but
nonmilitary female leader presides over the affairs (Mon Mothma / Queen Ellisime). The
heroes must figure out a secret way of lowering the base's defenses (or just plain
finding it) somehow. Luke and Co. infiltrate Endor's forest moon with the help of
some Ewoks and shut off the Death Star's shield after battling a contingent of
Imperial troops so that the Rebels may attack. Similarly, BGMC and his party infiltrate
Bodhi's secret vampire lair with the help of Drizz't and his band to secure the
Rynn Lanthorn after battling her and her vampires so that the Elves may attack (themselves
in the forest of Tethyr). Note that Vader's #1 henchman, Boba Fett, is killed earlier
in RotJ, whereas Irenicus' #1 henchperson, Bodhi, is killed at this point. But,
regardless of any battling the Ewoks and Elves do, naturally it's up to Luke and BGMC
to ultimately defeat the evil first-hand. Here, some bizarre BG2/ToB parallels appear in
the same RotJ scene, the final confrontation between Luke, Vader, and the Emperor. Luke is
tempted to join the dark side (such as BGMC is tempted to accept his role as the new God
of Murder), and is nearly killed by an even more powerful evil (the Emperor / Amelyssan),
one that appeared benevolent earlier on in the story (Senator Palpatine in the second SW
trilogy / Melissa at Saradush) before revealing its true nature later. Lots of force power
(magic) is used in the ensuing battle. Vader regains his humanity and helps Luke (like
Sarevok's resurrection at the beginning of ToB) beat the Emperor. Defeating the
greater evil assists the rest of the heroes in defeating the remaining evil forces, and
the good guys win.
Now, Lucas has admitted to borrowing from Joseph Campbell's The Power
of Myth and The Hero With a Thousand Faces to draw up the classic tale of
heroism that both Star Wars (and, arguably, Baldur's Gate as well) are.
As such, one may be willing to forgive the similarity in general thematic elements. However, the specifics are
hard to overlook. And the biggest subversive coup is that Black Isle Studios is going to
make a Star Wars RPG!
But they already did, didn't they?
|Small, annoying woodland creatures help move both plots